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Gail’s Cantuccini

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Gail Hall has been a positive force on the Alberta culinary scene for decades – she was an award-winning caterer, broadcaster, food writer, educator and international culinary tour guide who knew everyone and shared everything from her cooking school and loft on 104th Street in Edmonton. We’ve known her for years, and like most others who knew her, have been inspired by not only her work, but her infectious energy and enthusiasm. She has done so much to build our culinary community, to teach home cooks and support new (and established) chefs.

Sadly, Gail passed away in November, but this past weekend her husband Jon along with her many friends and family members held a celebration of her life – a potluck, of course, and we baked a batch of her almond biscotti to bring along. Thanks Gail, for all the delicious things you’ve shared, and for bringing so many people together around the table.

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Chocolate-ginger Molasses Crinkles

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‘Tis the season for holiday cookies, and this year these chewy Chocolate-ginger Molasses Crinkles have become one of our go-to recipes for Christmas cookie exchanges. They’re easy to make, fun for kids to roll in sugar, and combine warm cinnamon and ginger with deep chocolate flavour. The recipe makes over 2 dozen, so there’s enough to package up and give away, plus a few to nibble on! Cookies are also perfect for teachers, coaches and other people kids want to thank at this time of year.

Make sure you don’t overbake these; they need to stay chewy. They should be set around the edges, but still soft in the middle – they’ll firm up as they cool.

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Everything Brownies

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I’m a huge fan of brownies – and chocolate chip cookies – and Oreos. What if the three of them got together and morphed into the best of both brownie and cookie worlds? These brownies have a chocolate chip cookie dough base, sandwich cookies in the middle, and a fudgy chocolate brownie top. This is how to win friends and influence people.

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Butter tart slice

Butter Tart Slice

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Butter tarts are our all-time favourites, but we don’t always have time to make the pastry, roll, cut and fill individual tarts. Butter tarts in bar form is the perfect solution; this past weekend, having to bake for a gathering, they were quick to mix up and bake. And here’s a secret: when you’re making squares that have a sticky filling, like butter tart squares or lemon bars, if you freeze the whole thing in the pan before you slice them, they’ll cut much more cleanly. Let them sit on the countertop for 20 minutes to thaw – or if you’re bringing them with you, they’ll thaw en route.

Butter tarts are traditionally made with currants, but these call for coconut, raisins and/or pecans – a delicious combination on a buttery shortbread crust.Read More

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Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies

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Earlier this month, Mary, Julie and Elizabeth gathered at the Cookbook Company Cooks with a few dozen Best of Bridge fans for an epic baking party to raise money for the Calgary Food Bank. (Huge thanks to Gail for letting us use her space, and to Calgary Co-op for donating all the ingredients we needed!) We put a pot of mulled wine on the stove and had a blast of an afternoon baking together. Among old classics and new favourites, this was a new discovery we came up with that’s sure to stay in our holiday baking repertoire.

Chocolate Peppermint Crackle Cookies

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. peppermint extract (or substitute vanilla)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

extra sugar, for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening and sugar for a few minutes, until light. Beat in the egg and peppermint extract.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until the dough comes together.

Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll in a shallow dish of sugar to coat. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until cracked and set around the edges, but still soft in the middle – they’ll firm up as they cool.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.